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School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health

Health Requirements for Admission

Durham University's Phase 1 Medicine programme, leading to the Newcastle University MBBS degree, has an overriding duty of care to the public with whom students come into close contact from the first term of their studies, and follows Department of Health guidance on health clearance for medical students. Detailed immunisation requirements will be sent to every applicant on acceptance of a conditional offer. However, applicants are also encouraged to monitor this website for any changes in requirements.

All successful applicants must produce evidence required for standard health clearance: this includes evidence of immunisation against (or immunity to) diphtheria, tetanus and polio; measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, as well as non-infectivity to tuberculosis. Further information is included in the Appendix at the bottom of this page.

As a future medical student, you are also advised for your own protection to commence a schedule of Hepatitis B immunisations long before coming to University. The immunisation schedule that we recommend is a basic course of three doses of vaccine at 0, 1 month and 2 months. Antibody titres should be checked 1-4 months after completion of the course. It is very strongly recommended that these vaccinations begin long before you leave home for university as the course of Hepatitis B immunisations is lengthy and you can usually expect to pay for Hepatitis B vaccinations and associated blood tests even after you arrive at University.

The Medical School does have to ensure that you are capable, with support if needed, of acquiring the core clinical skills and competencies to qualify, practise as a doctor and work safely with patients. The requirements are defined in the GMC publication, Tomorrow's Doctors. Consequently, on accepting an offer, all applicants will be contacted by the Occupational Health Service who will undertake confidential health screening prior to registration. Occupational Health will ask about all impairments and/or health conditions which could affect applicants in training so that they can best advise the Medical School and, where appropriate, may propose potential adjustments for consideration.

Additional health clearance for non-infectivity to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV will be required before any student is permitted to train or participate in any exposure-prone procedures. Durham University's Phase 1 Medicine Programme, leading to the Newcastle University MBBS Degree, follows the Medical Schools Council protocol on such blood borne viruses. During the course students will be requested to be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV; all aspects of a student's Occupational Health record will be bound by the same duty of confidentiality as for any doctor-patient interaction and informed by the same ethical guidance. The status of any individual in respect of blood borne viruses will not be a factor in the admissions selection process and will not prevent them completing medical education.

As a future medical student, you are advised for your own protection and that of your future patients to commence a schedule of Hepatitis B immunisation. The immunisation schedule that we recommend is a basic course of three doses of vaccine at 0, 1 month and 2 months followed by a blood test to check antibody titres 1-4 months after completion of the course. It is recommended that these vaccinations begin before you leave home for university as the course of Hepatitis B immunisations is lengthy, consists of several appointments and is required for a small number of optional placements in Year 1. Where a student believes that they are unlikely to be able to complete their primary course of Hepatitis B immunisations prior to starting the MBBS programme, they should contact the Director of Clinical Learning or Placement Coordinator once their offer of a place becomes unconditional in order to discuss alternative arrangements.

The Medical School follows the Department of Health regulations on this subject and requires that all medical students provide proof that they have completed a full course of immunisations against hepatitis B and have developed a protective antibody response or, in the case of those who fail to respond to the vaccine, that they are not infectious carriers of the virus.

Occupational Health will accept as documentary proof an individual validated sample (IVS) certified UK laboratory report showing a satisfactory hepatitis B surface antibody level (titre >100 miU/ml). Students with a low hepatitis B surface antibody level at the end of their primary course (titre 10-99 miU/ml) will be advised to have a further dose of vaccination. Students who fail to respond (titre > 10 miU/ml) will be required to demonstrate they are not infectious carriers of the virus (HepBSAg and antiHBc negative) before repeating the entire primary course from the beginning.

The Medical School reserves the right to re-test any or all of its medical students for any or all markers of blood-borne viruses at any time during their course and to alter its regulations at any time in the light of future changes to Department of Health and Council of Heads of Undergraduate Medical School guidance.

The Department of Health has directed that all health care workers, including medical students, must be screened and, where appropriate, immunised before contact with patients. This is important to protect students from being infected by patients, and to protect vulnerable patients from contracting infections from healthcare workers. As you may know, modern medical curricula have a considerable amount of early patient contact even in the first few weeks of the programme, so it is essential that all prospective medical students provide evidence of satisfactory immunisation/non-infectivity against the following:

  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Diphtheria
  • Polio
  • Tetanus
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Hepatitis B

Some guidance notes on specific immunisation requirements are given below to help you. Please note that if any charges are made it will be your responsibility to meet these:

  1. Tuberculosis: during registration you will either have a BCG scar check (if you have already had a BCG), a Mantoux test (if you have not had a BCG) or have a gamma interferon blood test arranged if you are entering the UK from an area of high TB prevalence.
  2. Diptheria, Polio and Tetanus: you are expected to be up to date at registration.
  3. Measles, Mumps and Rubella: evidence of 2 MMR vaccinations is required by all students at registration. If you have not had two MMR vaccinations, please arrange this with your GP surgery or health provider straight away.
  4. Rubella: in addition, all students must submit a blood test result showing that they are immune to rubella. Please arrange this straight away as the process can be lengthy if you are not immune.
  5. Varicella: your GP is asked whether they hold a documented record of you having definite varicella (chicken pox or shingles) infection. If there is no such record then you will be required to submit a blood test result to demonstrate your immunity. Please arrange this straight away as the process can be lengthy if you are not immune.
  6. Hepatitis B: the immunisation schedule we recommend is a basic course of three doses of vaccine at 0, 1 month and 2 months. Antibody titres should be checked 1-4 months after completion of the course. It is very strongly recommended that the vaccinations begin long before you leave home for university. You can currently expect to pay for Hepatitis B vaccination and the subsequent blood test even after you arrive at University.

Please note that acceptance of an offer to study medicine includes acceptance of these immunisation and DBS requirements. However, if there are medical reasons why you cannot receive immunisations, or if you do not respond to immunisation, then advice will be sought from the Occupational Health service on your behalf. Otherwise, failure to comply with these requirements will result in you being excluded from all early clinical contact sessions and other important teaching sessions involving the public.

Failure to comply with these regulations by the beginning of Epiphany term will make it impossible for you to complete the required learning outcomes for Stage 1 and you will regretfully be withdrawn from the programme.